Recently, I read an article about an exploration to determine if Pierce Transit should bring bus service to DuPont titled Pierce Transit Follow Up and City of DuPont Survey Results.
My knowledge of Pierce County dates back to 1959. Decades ago we faced the same question regarding implementing bus service in the Lakewood area. I easily concluded a NO vote would be in my best interest. I do not and will not ride city buses.
Having said that, I voted YES for bus service, because I reasoned voting YES would be an act of other-directed kindness in support of our community. Voting YES for buses was like voting YES for a school levy even though the voter does not have children attending school.
After the bus election was successful and taxes raised, Pierce Transit started serving Lakewood.Cartoon by SWS
It was not long before the downside to bus service became apparent. The streets in The City of Tacoma were overflowing with troubled citizens. Bus service opened the flood gates allowing Tacoma’s troubled to reach Lakewood bringing with them their propensity for nefarious activity. Following that, Tacoma’s troubled figured out they could move to Lakewood permanently.
Today, Lakewood is a haven for the homeless. The homeless are beginning to take over. They are pushing people who take daily showers out of certain public areas of our city.
Every day the homeless can be seen with their worldly possessions in stolen shopping carts. The homeless are “day camping” and sleeping inside our library, local Starbucks and other public Lakewood locations.
The homeless are creating problems for private home owners who do not relish observing the homeless urinating and exposing themselves around their homes. The garbage and drug addiction paraphernalia the homeless leave behind is particularly troublesome to private home owners.
Homeless people have been caught sleeping in private yards of occupied homes after a night of breaking into the neighborhood’s cars and outbuildings.
Some of us, not wishing to spend time in “homeless day camps,” are forced to stop patronizing these day camper locations if for no other reason so as to avoid the smell, exposure to illness and panhandling.
It got so bad at Towne Center Starbucks, they had to tape off part of the customer seating as a biohazard. Starbucks then tore out the customer bench seating and sanitized the wooden chairs because a homeless woman was day camping and while doing so urinating on the Starbucks furniture on a daily basis.
Another Lakewood business, continually victimized by the homeless, was forced this past month to spend thousands of dollars on security fencing to keep the homeless from using the back of their building and parked cars as a latrine area.
Recently, in separate out of state incidents, transients killed two police officers.
I have no interest in being mean or unfeeling to the homeless or their plight. Each homeless person has a backstory. I know we have some good citizens working hard to help the homeless including the “unhousable,” but no quick solutions seem to be coming our way.
One of the enjoyable aspects of the City of DuPont is the fact that visitors to the city are not normally confronted with homeless people spoiling our freedom to patronize DuPont businesses. DuPont is now an oasis.
DuPont: if you do decide to start bus service seriously consider contracting with Pierce County’s Transit Police Service. You will learn soon enough that transit police are necessary in order to help maintain peace and safety in your city in and around buses.
DuPont: If you have now or in the future have any businesses with shopping carts, you will experience two problems. One of the problems will be the theft of shopping cards. The other problem will be having to deal with shopping carts abandoned all over your city which will degrade your current pristine appearance to more of a slum look.
It is amazing to me that a homeless transient can steal a $350 shopping cart with absolutely no consequences from either the victim business or our criminal justice system.
On the other hand, if I steal $350 worth of steaks from the grocery store, the victim business and our criminal justice system will round me up like a cattle rustler and mete out serious consequences including arrest, parole, lawyer fees, court costs and a criminal trespass order preventing me from lawfully returning to store.
One reason I do not steal is because I do not want to suffer all those negative consequences.
One reason the homeless steal shopping carts is because they suffer no consequences.
Currently, our society is fulfilling the role of “enabler”. We, as society, are a part of the problem as long as we enable the homeless to get away with criminal behavior. Society is part of the problem when we fail to offer our tax dollars to support mental health resources resulting in droves of mentally ill being released to wonder our streets.
DuPont: Should you elect to take a zero tolerance approach to homeless crime, which means booking criminals even for stealing shopping carts, the homeless will either stop their criminal activity or they will no longer venture into DuPont. Word that DuPont is a soft target or a hard target will spread quickly among the homeless.
In my view, two things are needed to solve our homeless problem: (1) We need the good people with warm hearts to organize effective programs to assist the homeless move towards a better and safer life style. (2) We need the no-nonsense citizens focussed on eradicating anti-social, irritating and criminal behavior to hold the homeless accountable for their actions.
It is time for both sides to team up to implement the “carrot and stick” problem-solving method rather than continuing to tolerate or ignore the homeless problem.